While we have been isolating because of the COVID-19 restrictions, I have heard about families who have been spending time cooking together. Baking or cooking is a great way to connect with each other, doing something that is enjoyable with a tasty result at the end. The added bonus is that when we cook together, we have something good to share with others, whether they are our kids who come home from school at the end of the day, family members we live with, or others we might know who would appreciate a spontaneous gift.
I am not a chef, but I do know that whenever we cook, we need to prepare. There have been times when I have started making something without first preparing properly and have realized part way through that I did not have some of the necessary ingredients. If what we are cooking is going to produce something good that we can offer other people, we need to get ready and prepare first.
The Apostle Peter encourages Christians to prepare so we can be ready when people ask us about the hope we have in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). Since the opening of his letter, Peter has talked about our hope as people who have been raised with Jesus through faith. We have new birth into a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection (1:3). We can put our hope in the salvation Jesus will bring when he comes again (1:13). We can trust God because he raised Jesus from the dead (1:21). For Peter, faith in Jesus’ resurrection goes hand in hand with a life-giving hope.
In 3:15, Peter now says to be prepared to explain the hope we have in Jesus to anyone who asks us. There is a lot we can get out of these few words, but our current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic gives us a specific context to find meaning in his words.
Since the pandemic started and restrictions were put in place, I have witnessed a lot of worry and fear in people. One clear example was the panic-buying of essential items like toilet paper and non-perishable foods. As the people of God and followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has gifted us with the antidote to the worry and fear people are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other reason. God’s antidote is hope. This is not a vague hope that things will get better, or that if we look after each other we will get through these tough times. The hope the Holy Spirit gifts to us is specifically in the resurrection of Jesus.
When we live as people of hope in the middle of so much worry and fear, it will show in our lives and in our relationships. That is why Peter urges us to be ready to explain the hope we have in Jesus. When people notice that we are living in hope, not worry or fear, and they ask us why we are living that way, we can share with them the goodness of God we find through faith in Jesus. Just like I will prepare before I start cooking to make sure I’m ready with everything I need, Peter wants us to prepare to share the hope we have so that others can find hope in Jesus’ resurrection as well.
So how do we get ready to give the reason for the hope we have in Jesus’ resurrection? I would like to share with you the simple recipe I use to prepare to share the hope I have in Jesus.
The first step is to identify what makes us worry or be afraid. We might not like to admit the causes of our worries or fears because we can sometimes think that we should be able to handle them on our own. If we are going to find real hope in the middle of our fears, worries or anxieties, though, we need to know what they are. A good way to identify our fears or worries is to talk with someone that we trust about them. So, the first question I ask to prepare to give the reason for our hope is, what is making us worry or afraid?
The second step is to explore how the good news of Jesus speaks into that specific worry or fear. God promises us that he will give us everything we need for life in this world and in the next for the sake of Jesus (see Romans 8:32). For example, if we are afraid of being isolated and alone because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Jesus promises that he will always be with us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5), and this promise is made tangible in the community of faith as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15,16). If we are worried about loss of income and financial hardship, Jesus promises to provide us with every physical thing we need for life in this world (Matthew 6:25-34). Even if we or our loved ones were to catch COVID-19 and possibly die, Jesus promises us that his love and life and stronger than death and he will give us eternal life through his death and resurrection (eg John 11:25,26). Exploring how the message of Jesus is good news for us can be challenging, but it helps us see that the gospel is not just an off-the shelf message, but, like a homemade recipe, it speaks specifically and directly into our personal worries and fears. So, my second question is, how is Jesus’ message good news for us with our worries or fears?
The third step to preparing to give the reason for the hope we have in Jesus is to find hope in the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. When we trust God’s promises to provide us with everything we need for this life and the next for the sake of Jesus, it helps us to see through our current worries and fears to the possibility of a better tomorrow. Paul writes that this hope is for both this life and the life to come (see 1 Corinthians 15:19,20). Whatever our fears or worries might be, when we find the ways in which God’s promises and the good news of Jesus’ resurrection bring God’s goodness into our lives, no matter what we are experiencing, we can find hope. When we have found this hope for ourselves, we can share that hope with others. So, my third question is, how does Jesus’ good news give you hope?
In many cooking shows, they will display an example of what they were cooking which they had prepared earlier. This shows us that they had done their preparation, and everything worked as it should. As Peter encourages us to be ready to answer everyone who asks us about the hope we have in the risen Christ, I encourage you to take some time this week to prepare what you could say when someone asks you about your hope. You might do this is by following my simple recipe: What worries or fears do you have? How is Jesus’ message good news for you with your worries or fears? How does Jesus’ good news give you hope?
There is a lot of worry and fear in the world right now because of the COVID-19 virus and for other reasons. God gives us the antidote to worry and fear through the hope we have in Jesus. Will you be ready to give your reasons for the hope you have in Jesus when someone asks you?
More to think about & discuss:
- What are some examples you have seen in the last few weeks about people’s worries or fears about the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Do you find hope something that comes easily, or do you struggle with it? Try to explain why that might be the case for you…
- Would you like to live as a person of hope? Give some reasons for your answer.
- What worries or fears do you have at the moment, either in connection with COVID-19, the restrictions that are in place, or anything else that might be happening in your life?
- How can Jesus’ message be good news for you in your situation right now?
- How can trusting Jesus’ good news help you to find hope in your life? What might a better tomorrow through Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of his life to you look like?
- If someone asked you to explain the hope you have in Jesus, what might you say?